The last several years, I’ve somewhat lost my faith in some nonprofit leaders but in this past year, I’ve found my faith again that good leaders DO exist. Shackleton and his men succeeded against overwhelming odds, and arrived safely back in England.

Remember, you can also exhibit these traits, even if you’re not currently in a leadership role. Take these tools and learn how you will be when you are executive director, or board chair, or president.

Think about how you would change what is currently happening if no good model is right in front of you.

How can you be a good nonprofit leader?

Take a page from Ernest Shackleton Leadership!

  1. Leaders are willing to venture in new directions, seize new opportunities, and learn new skills.
  2. Leaders broaden cultural and social horizons and learn to see things from different perspectives. Differing perspectives enable greater flexibility when faced with new problems.
  3. Leaders are bold in vision, but careful when planning. They take calculated risks and back the vision with meticulous planning focusing on success.
  4. Leaders keep the door open to staff members and are generous with information. Well-informed employees are more eager and better prepared to participate.
  5. Leaders must understand limitations and never insist on reaching a goal at any cost. Goals must be achieved at a reasonable expense and without undue hardship.
  6. Leaders learn from past mistakes- Theirs and others.
  7. Leaders make certain they develop some high performing teams to handle the most challenging situations
  8. Leaders allow and encourage innovation from team members and truly empower them to take independent action.
  9. Leaders cultivate a sense of compassion and responsibility for others, understanding that bigger impact on the lives of those who report to them than they typically imagine.
  10. Leaders are willing to change their minds and allow team members to change theirs when a plan is not working, understanding that innovation is not always successful on the first attempt.
  11. Leaders show confidence to those acting in their place. They understand the importance of having their team see that same level of competence being maintained during absences.
  12. Leaders give the worst assignments to the workhorses who do not complain, but then let them know that they are receiving an oversized task that they are being counted on for completion.

Shackleton did his best to bring all of his men safely home from his Arctic expedition in 1917. Through tremendous struggle, aside from 4 men, he did bring everyone home. His men were loyal to him to the end.

Do you see any leadership traits missing here, that you would like to add?

If you’d like even more resources on nonprofit leadership, check out my comprehensive page here!